|Born||John Irwin McGiver
November 5, 1913
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 9, 1975
West Fulton, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
|Alma mater||Fordham University
The Catholic University of America
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Schmigelsky (m. 1947–75) (his death)|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Unit||7th Armored Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
John Irwin McGiver (November 5, 1913 – September 9, 1975) was an American character actor who made more than a hundred appearances in television and motion pictures over a two-decade span from 1955 to 1975.
The owl-faced, portly actor with the mid-Atlantic accent was known for his performances as the kindly Tiffany's salesman in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961); the honorable but ill-fated Senator Thomas Jordan in the original film version of The Manchurian Candidate (1962); and as religious fanatic Mr. O'Daniel in the film Midnight Cowboy (1969). He also appeared on many TV shows and commercials, including a Baggies spot in the 1960s, as well as the first of a popular series of commercials for the American Express charge card ("Do you know me?").
McGiver was born in New York City, the son of Irish immigrants. He received a B.A. in English from Fordham University in 1938 and master's degrees from Columbia University and Catholic University. He was an English teacher before he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served as an officer in the U.S. Army's 7th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. His stage career also began before the war, when he was an actor-director in New York's Irish Repertory Theater. He continued to teach English and speech at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, working occasionally in off-Broadway plays, until 1955, when he became a full-time actor.
In 1959, McGiver appeared in the episode "The Assassin" of NBC's espionage drama Five Fingers, starring David Hedison. In 1962, he appeared as Gramps in the episode "The Seventh Day of Creation" of the NBC medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour, starring Wendell Corey and Jack Ging. He appeared on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes "Six People No Music" and "Fatal Figures", and the Twilight Zone episode "Sounds and Silences". He also played a butterfly collector in a 1966 episode of Gilligan's Island (season 3, episode 7, Man With A Net). In 1971 he guest starred in Alias Smith and Jones with Pete Duel and Ben Murphy (season 1, episode 8, 'A Fistful of Diamonds').
Between 1963 and 1964, McGiver appeared in five episodes of The Patty Duke Show as J.R. Castle, who was Martin Lane's boss at the fictional newspaper The Chronicle.
In the 1964–1965 television season, McGiver played the widower Walter Burnley, the head of the complaint department of a fictitious Los Angeles department store in the CBS sitcom Many Happy Returns. His costars included Elinor Donahue, Mark Goddard, Mickey Manners, and Elena Verdugo.
McGiver was married to Ruth Schmigelsky from 1947 until his death; they had ten children.
- Love in the Afternoon (1957)
- I Married a Woman (1958)
- The Gazebo (1959) with Glenn Ford
- Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961)
- Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
- Something's Got to Give (1962; aborted Marilyn Monroe film)
- Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)
- The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
- Period of Adjustment (1962)
- Who's Got the Action? (1962)
- My Six Loves (1963)
- Who's Minding the Store? (1963)
- Take Her, She's Mine (1963)
- Man's Favorite Sport? (1964)
- A Global Affair (1964)
- Marriage on the Rocks (1965)
- The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
- The Spirit Is Willing (1967)
- Fitzwilly (1967)
- Midnight Cowboy (1969)
- Lawman (1971)
- Mame (1974)
- The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
McGiver was a regular performer on:
- McKeever & the Colonel, 1962–1963
- Many Happy Returns, 1964–1965 (lead role)
- Mr. Terrific, 1967
- The Jimmy Stewart Show, 1971–1972
McGiver also appeared in:
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Fatal Figures”)("Six People, No Music")
- The Twilight Zone (two episodes: "The Bard", "Sounds and Silences")
- The Lucy Show (“Lucy is Kangaroo for a Day", 1963)
- The Patty Duke Show (5 episodes)
- The Rogues ("Mr White's Christmas", 1965)
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (TV series) (episode "The X Factor")
- The Fugitive (episode "The End Game")
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- The Beverly Hillbillies (“Granny Versus the Weather Bureau”)
- Gidget ("One More for the Road", 1966)
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("The Birds and the Bees Affair", 1966)
- I Dream of Jeannie ("Jeannie Breaks the Bank", 1966)
- Gilligan's Island ("Man With a Net", 1966)
- Honey West ("Mr Brillig", 1966)
- The Wild Wild West ("The Night of the Turncoat," 1967)
- High Chaparral ("Ebenezer," 1968)
- Bewitched ("Mother-in-Law of the Year", 1971)
Broadway theatre includes:
- U.S. Census, January 1, 1920, State of New York, County of New York, enumeration district 681, p. 15A, family 319.
- "John McGiver, Actor, 62, Dies; Did TV, Film Character Roles", New York Times, September 10, 1975, p. 48.
- National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
- "War Provided Background For C.U. Play", The Washington Post, June 8, 1947, p. L2.
- "John M'Giver — Teacher Who Took a Chance", New York Times, June 1, 1958, p. X9.
- "Other Deaths: John McGiver, Veteran Actor". Boca Raton News. September 10, 1975. pp. 9A.
- "Character Actor John McGiver Dies". The Telegraph. September 10, 1975. p. 2.
- John McGiver at the Internet Movie Database
- John McGiver at the Internet Broadway Database
- John McGiver at Find a Grave